Aging Life Care Management is a rapidly developing, newly recognized profession which helps families adjust and cope with the challenges of an aging loved one.
Aging Life Care Manager’s are health advocates for seniors and disabled adults. Managers provide needs assessments, screening, arranging, and monitoring in-home help, counseling and support including family conflict mediation and crisis intervention. They assess the ability to remain safely in the home or whether the person may need to be relocated to an alternative residence. Determining appropriate living arrangements and necessary supportive assistance are among the many services they offer. Additionally, managers’s help to facilitate legal, financial, medical and end of life services.
Aging Life Care Managers become liaisons to families who are separated by long distances from their elderly loved ones making sure they are managing well,
and alerting them to any concerns or problems that may arise. Managers’s have extensive knowledge about the services and resources in their communities.
Aging Life Care Managers hold Bachelor Degrees, Masters Degrees, or Doctorates in a human service related field such as Gerontology, Social Work, Psychology, or Nursing. As the aging
population continues to grow, the need for strict Aging Life Care standards is increasingly critical.
The National Association of Aging Life Care Managers recognizes the following credentials as exceeding the standard of expertise in being a Aging Life Care Manager;
CMC, CCM, A-CSW & C-SWCM. The certification exam to be a CMC is facilitated by the National Association of Certified Care Managers (NACCM). These certifications re-quire testing, ongoing continuing education and peer review in order to re-certify.
Because there are some individuals working either independently or for a different professional and who refer to themselves as “Care Managers”, it is important for the wise consumer to ask questions when considering hiring a PCM. Some of these questions include:
How much experience does Aging Life CareManager have in healthcare?
When selecting either a Professional Care Management Agency or an Individual, the process should be comprehensive and cautious. The answers to your questions will assist you in
determining whether that particular Agency or Sole Proprietor has the qualifications important to you for a successful relationship.
1. What is the background of your company? Search out the history and ownership of the company. Find out who owns the company and weigh how the ownership affects the company’s service and reliability. is it reputable and in good standing?
2. How long has your company been in business? The number of years an agency has been in business is not always pertinent to the quality of care given,\ but it does reflect on the stability and success of the company.
3. What qualifications, certifications, experience and training do you require of your workers? Find out if caregivers’ credentials are investigated. Plus, determine whether caregivers undergo a thorough, professional testing and screening process.
4. Are your employees insured and bonded? For your protection, ensure that all caregivers are insured and bonded by the home care agency.
5. How do you supervise your workers to make sure the proper care is given? Some agencies make scheduled quality assurance calls and visits. To further ensure quality care, see that all caregivers are regularly and closely supervised by a qualified company representative.
6. Will the same employee continue with my case? It is difficult to receive good care if different people show up every week. A good home care provider will be concerned with continuity of care.
7. Do you conduct a home visit before starting the home care service? It is important that the patient and family members discuss the kind of care needed with a home care representative. This will help you determine whether the home care provider can meet your needs.
8. Do you work with my doctor in developing a plan of care? If you require care beyond that associated with activities of daily living, your doctor ought to be involved.
9. Can you give me some references from doctors, hospital personnel or social workers? Ask for names of people, not just the name of a hospital or organization.
10. Do you guarantee customer satisfaction? Find out if you’re locked in to a contract for a certain period of time. The home care provider should guarantee care and cancel charges for unsatisfactory service.
By Lory Smeltzer, MPH, CMC
People who are getting agitated can sometimes feel better if they have something useful or interesting to do. However, they usually need direction to find appropriate activities and to prevent frustration. Here are some suggestions that can help:
Getting to doctor appointments. Is the person upset about going to the doctor or dentist? Here are some helpful hints: Emphasize the value of a check-up, rather than a test for a specific problem.
It is important to evaluate the person’s environment—his or her bedroom, daytime areas, and schedule—to see if any of the following problems may be contributing to agitation:
Is the environment safe? If not, take the necessary steps to ensure the safety of the patient and caregiver (e.g
People with dementia often find it hard to remember the meaning of words that you are using, or to think of the words they want to say. You may both become frustrated. The following tips can help you communicate more effectively with a person who has dementia:
Try and talk about feelings rather than arguing over facts. For example, if the person with dementia is mistakenly convinced you didn’t see him yesterday, focus on his feelings of insecurity today: “I won’t forget you.”
Contrary to traditional thinking, regular exercise helps, not hurts, most older adults. Older people become sick or disabled more often from not exercising than from exercising. Those who have chronic disease or health problems may actually improve with regular exercise, but they should check with a physician before increasing their physical activity.
There are few reasons to keep older adults from increasing their physical activity, and being “too old” and “too frail” aren’t among them. Almost all older adults, regardless of age or condition, can safely improve their health and independence through exercise and physical activity.
Most older people think in terms of getting their physician’s approval to start exercising, and that’s always a good idea. A physician can talk to seniors about the benefits of exercise and suggest an appropriate exercise program.
Chronic diseases are illnesses that can’t be cured but usually can be controlled with medications and other treatments. They are common among older adults and include diabetes, cardiovascular disease (such as high blood pressure), and arthritis.
Traditionally, exercise has been discouraged in people with certain chronic conditions. But researchers have found that, in many older people, exercise can actually improve certain chronic conditions, as long as it’s done during periods when the condition is under control.
If the person in your care has a chronic condition, you are probably asking yourself how you can tell whether their disease is stable. How do you know if exercise would be beneficial or harmful for the elderly person?
The physician can recommend a suitable exercise regimen, or refer the senior to a qualified professional who can customize an exercise program for them.
A physician can also inform the senior of symptoms that may mean trouble ? a flare-up, or an acute phase or exacerbation of the disease. For example, if the person you are caring for has congestive heart failure (CHF), the acute phase of this disease should be taken seriously. A CHF patient should not exercise when warning symptoms of the acute phase, or any other chronic disease, appear. It could be dangerous. When they are free of these symptoms ? in other words, stable or under control ? this is the time to exercise.
Other circumstances require caution, too. Nobody should exercise until checking with a doctor if they have:
Men over 40, and women over 50 should check with a doctor first if they plan to do vigorous, as opposed to moderate, physical activities. Vigorous activity could be a problem for people who have “hidden” heart disease (some people have a heart disease, but are unaware because there are no symptoms).
How can you tell if the activity planned is vigorous? An activity that causes you to breath and sweat heavily is considered vigorous. Keep in mind people have varying levels of fitness. Running is a vigorous activity for some people, but for others, walking is as vigorous. It depends on the individual’s physical and medical condition.
If the person you are caring for recently had a heart attack, the physician or cardiac rehabilitation therapist should have assigned specific exercises to do after being discharged from the hospital or as part of a cardiac rehabilitation program. Research has shown that exercise done as part of a cardiac rehabilitation program can improve fitness and reduce the risk of dying. If the senior didn’t get instructions before leaving the hospital, make sure they call the physician to discuss exercise before increasing physical activity.
For some conditions, vigorous exercise is dangerous and should not be done, even in the absence of symptoms. Check with a physician before beginning an exercise program if you have either of the following conditions:
As they grow older, most people want to continue living independently in their own homes. They want to remain self-sufficient in their familiar surroundings. That’s certainly expected and natural. But all too often the very fact of aging affects people’s ability to care for themselves and manage their daily living, and this creates health and safety concerns. Many adult children become their parents’ primary caregivers, taking on all the responsibilities that go with keeping up the quality of their parents’ lives. When caring for themselves becomes progressively too difficult, or when the responsibilities of the adult children become overwhelming, it is time for both seniors and their families to consider professional home health care.
Here Are 20 Signs That Signal the Need for Professional Home Health Care:Inability to manage personal care:
State and Private Agencies Investigate Complaints of Poor Treatment
One of the most difficult challenges for caregivers occurs when problems arise with the facility or heath care professionals who are supposed to help the senior. If you are not satisfied with the quality of care, discuss your concerns with the facility’s director. You might also want to speak with the senior’s physician, facility medical director or other appropriate staff member.
Misunderstandings rather than poor intentions cause many problems, and talking with staff and managers can frequently resolve them. Moreover, federal and state laws require facilities to investigate complaints about treatment. However, if directly approaching those involved does not produce results, you may have to turn to one or more advocacy organizations. These include:
If you have a complaint about a nursing home or other facility you cannot resolve with the staff, try the local ombudsman program. Ombudsman programs are independent nonprofit agencies mandated by law to protect the rights of residents in long-term care facilities and investigate complaints. Every state has an ombudsman program; most of the programs maintain local branches in different parts of the state.
State and federal laws require facilities to post contact information for the ombudsman program in their area. Ombudsmen can meet with residents and their caregivers and families to discuss quality of care, financial issues, dietary matters and other areas of concern. Ombudsmen can also mediate disputes between facilities and residents or their representatives.
Ombudsmen have no enforcement authority. However, ombudsmen refer their findings to the state survey agency, which is mandated to regulate nursing homes. Since neither the facility nor the state employs them, their recommendations carry special weight with state survey agencies.
If you have a complaint about a doctor, hospital, managed care plan or nursing home that you cannot resolve with that physician or organization, try contacting your state’s Peer Review Organization. These organizations — also known as Quality Improvement Organizations — investigate complaints about any care a patient has received under Medicare.However, like ombudsmen, they have no enforcement authority. If enforcement is necessary, the PRO may refer a complaint to the state survey agency or the relevant licensing board.
If neither the ombudsmen nor the PRO is able to help you, you can turn to the state survey agency, also sometimes known as a state licensing agency. These agencies enforce federal guidelines regulating nursing homes and have the power to issue sanctions and impose penalties against facilities with substandard practices.
The possible penalties vary widely, from monetary fines to bringing in a temporary management team to even — although this is rare — closing down a facility. These agencies also conduct annual inspections of every Medicare- or Medicaid-certified nursing home.
If your complaint is with a nursing home, the state survey agency has enforcement authority; however, if your complaint is with a physician, nurse or hospital, you can turn to the professional licensing board. The boards oversee standards for medical professionals and facilities and can exercise disciplinary authority if necessary.
For example, physicians are licensed through a state board of medical examiners which can sanction them or revoke their medical licenses; nurses are licensed through a state board of nursing, and most hospitals undergo accreditation through the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Hospital Organizations. You can find phone numbers in the state government section of your telephone book.
If you have a complaint about a facility or care provider that is so serious you believe a law has been broken, you should call a law enforcement agency. These agencies have responsibility in cases of criminal misconduct. For example, a licensed medical professional who steals a patient’s pain medication could face both malpractice and criminal charges. Licensing boards deal only with the professional licenses, so the state’s attorney general or the local police would investigate a possible criminal violation.
In serious or life-threatening situations, such as physical or sexual abuse, any individual can call the local police department, the city attorney’s office or the state’s attorney general. You can find the numbers in the government section of your telephone book.